Efren Merino, of Safford, quietly passed away in his home with his family next to his side on June 6, 2020. He was born May 19, 1960, in Morenci to parents Mike and Petra Merino.
Efren attended school in Safford, then, after graduation, he started work with Phelps Dodge for a couple of years. On April 12, 1986, Efren married the love of his life, Ernestine “Maro” Merino, in Solomon at the Solomon Beneficio Propio. The couple was blessed with six children; Gabriel, Roberta, Brandy, John, Linda, and Kathryn.
Efren joined the Arizona Department of Corrections in 1986. He became key control for Fort Grant Prison. He joined TSU, Chase, and later joined Wildlife Fireland Crew. He then became part of operations, where he loved to tear down and rebuild stuff and he would show his inmate crew how to build and make things easier. He always had that motto that “he wasn’t a teacher”, but he was always teaching someone something.
He always had a big ole’ cheezy smile on his face. He will always be remembered as someone who always loved singing, dancing, joking, entertaining people, making friends, camping, fishing, and especially hunting with his family. Efren always put his family first. Efren loved to lead Marchas during weddings and quinceaneras. He enjoyed being ” The Chile Man” and donating pumpkins to the Morenci Schools Accommodation class for years and the kindergarten class at Solomon school.
Efren enjoyed watching his grandchildren play sports. If you ever wanted to find Efren you knew to find him in his garage. He had some favorite sayings like get er’ done, te sales, right on, deveras, and seriously. He loved to listen to Mexican, country, and oldies music. Efren was a man that a lot of people looked up to, especially his children. Efren was also known as Big-E, Chile Man, and Dancing Bear. Efren was a member of Sons of the American Legion of Solomon Arizona.
Efren is survived by his wife, Ernestine “Maro” Merino; his children, Efren Gabriel Merino, Roberta Merino, Brandy Doil, John Daniel Merino, Linda Madrid, and Kathryn Merino. He is also survived by his siblings, Mike Merino Jr, Richard Merino, Rainy Merino, Ronnie Chavez, and David Merino, Betty Merino, Bernie Rodriguez, and his 26 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, and his two cats “Cat 1” and “Cat 2”, and his dogs, Scruffy and Ava.
He is proceeded into death by his father, Mike Merino Sr.; his brother, Larry Chavez; his granddaughter, Selena Hernandez, and great-granddaughter, Analicia Hernandez.
A viewing for Efren will be held Thursday, June 18, beginning at 5 p.m. at the New Life City Church, with the Recitation of the Rosary starting at 7 p.m. A second viewing will be held Friday, June 19, at the McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel from 9 until 10:30 a.m., after which everyone is welcome to stay and watch the live Mass in our chapel, broadcasting live from St. Rose of Lima Church, beginning at 11 a.m.
Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory. Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com.